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*~*~*~ Bride in Hand ~*~*~*

a Novel of genuine unspeakable horror ~*
written & illustrated by Sean Terrence Best ~*

*~*~ Prologue ~*~*

Screams.  That's all Mohana could think about.  She couldn't
get them out of her head.  The wretched cries.  The moaning.  
The wailing.  Those guttural shrieks of dire fear.  Mohana, a
Hindu name which means "enchanting, bewitching".  How
mortifying.  The whole nightmarish scenario.  It reminded her
of that hideous nursery rhyme.  How did that loathsome
lullaby go?  (Hush little baby don't say a word, Daddy's gonna
buy you a Mocking Bird, and if that Mocking Bird won't sing,
Daddy's gonna buy you a diamond ring).
"The Mocking Bird didn't sing.", she mumbled to herself
through dry, chapped lips as a tear found its way through the
tiny slit of her trembling and closed eyelids.  The tear would
be salty, even in the dead of a still summer night, even if
nobody tasted it.  It would trickle down the side of her face,
making its way into the tangled strands of her long, dark hair.  
Actually, her hair was light red.  A strawberry blond they used
to call her, but then, after it happened, she dyed her hair dark.  
First, purple in honor of her broken heart, then midnight black
to match her perpetual mourning.  The funeral was hers and
the burial was today.  Everyday.  Mohana, the little strawberry
blond princess died and was buried every day since that fatal
night when she began to awaken to the horrid truth for the
first time in her fairytale princess life.  Her father had marched
her down the aisle, so full of pride like a peacock strutting the
glory of his plumage along side the royal train of her bridal
gown.  Her mother and her mother~in~law~to~be lighting the
candles.  The bridegroom, Brent Lawson, in a brown tuxedo
with a pink vest and bow tie, waiting for her at the altar.  A
kiss, a bouquet, a honeymoon in the Caribbean.  Then that
night.  That fateful night when she had prepared that special
dinner for him, her husband, her new husband, the first and
only husband that Mohana was to ever have.  A special
surprise dinner to celebrate their first night in their new home
together.  A big, white mansion, the loving wedding gift from
her wealthy grandmother, complete with wrap around,
colonnaded portico and gated white picket fence.  Brent
would be home from work soon.  His first day at the Firm as a
married man.  She remembers that she had given face to a
gentle smile at the thought of the congratulations, and, no
doubt, some sporty heckling from his bachelor partners that
Brent would have received that day.  All in good fun.  She
would be informed of all the gossip because her best
girl~friend and Maid of Honor, Kate Lebowitz, was receptionist
at the Firm.  Kate would tell her everything that happened at
the offices that day.  Then the first call came in.  It was Brent's
voice, "I'll be a little late, angel, one of our client's from
Pensacola has brought an addendum over.  We're gonna
cover it in preliminary this evening.  Shouldn't be more than
an hour though, so I'll see you by eight, nine at the latest."  A
quick "I love you, bye." and the phone line clicked dead.  
Angel.  At the memory of this, she tried to laugh but a cough,
similar to a gag, got in the way and another tear trailed its way
to her hairline.  He always called her angel.  That was one of
his natural charms.  He was irresistible in that way.  In so
many ways when she fell in love with him.  That night she had
tried not to get upset.  After all, it was a surprise celebration
dinner.  Brent had no way of knowing that she had made his
favorite dish, chicken cordon blue, for his first supper in their
new home together.  "Oh well", she thought, "work comes
before play."  The salads would be alright in the fridge and
she could place the entree` in the oven to stay warm until he
got home, to his new home with her.  Brent was fortunate to
have such a perfect start to his career.  He worked hard at
University and had graduated summa cum laude, first in his
class, from the Florida State College of Engineering,
continuing for another year and a half to earn his Master's.  
This and the strings her father had pulled on his behalf landed
him a lucrative position with the most prestigious civil
engineering firm in Panama City.  Brent's brother, Brandon, an
import dealer at a local lot, helped him make a down payment
on his dream car, a Jaguar XJ8.  Mohana was happy for her
successful husband Brent.  She would blow out the candles
for now and sit at her end of the table admiring the china, the
crystal, the silver and the flowers she had gathered from the
garden and placed in a nineteenth century porcelain vase as a
centerpiece.  Such romantic place settings just for two and
how many newlyweds had a pure white silk table cloth?  She
had even chilled a bottle of Dom.  Mohana smiled again as she
recalled the fun she had at their wedding teaching Brent to
hold a champagne glass by its stem to insure the champagne
wasn't being warmed by an all embracing hand.  How
delightful their first night in their new home as husband and
wife was going to be in spite of Brent having to work late.  
Mohana had entered into a sweet reverie imagining how she
would make love to Brent that night, the soft satin sheets
luxuriously surrounding them in their super~soft king size
bed.  Mohana had gotten excited, anticipating marital bliss,
but then the second call of that fateful night came in, the one
with a Florida Highway Patrolman on the other end of the line.
 Oh, they were gonna be ok, the man and the woman in the
XJ8 who had been in the auto accident, fender bender really,
at the Blue Lagoon motel involving an SUV driven by a retiree
from out of town.  The retiree and his wife hadn't sustained
any injuries, but the couple in the Jag had.  Those airbags
really blast out of there, you know.  A short ambulance ride to
the hospital is all that would be required for the two of them.  
Just to make sure their injuries were only minor.  
"Couple?" Mohana asked the patrolman, "Man and woman?  
The two of them?"
The patrolman spoke in a cold, matter~of~fact voice and
Mohana could visualize him referencing his written report
"Yes, your husband and his passenger, a miss Lebowitz." was
the toneless answer.
Without thinking, Mohana quickly shouted back into the
phone receiver, "Kate Lebowitz?"
"Yes ma'am, a miss Kate Lebowitz.  I've got a lot of work to do,
ma'am, so I'm gonna have to let you go.  If you would like to
see your husband, they are taking them to Bay Medical Center
"A~a~alright officer, th~thank you." Her voice was shaking,
trilling like a Mocking Bird in the morning.  Unconscious of
what she was doing, Mohana held her engagement ring up to
the light to see if it was shining.  Still holding her ring finger
toward the light with eyes wide and rambling, she had to make
three attempts in order to hook the telephone handset back
into the charger on the kitchen counter.  Like fire~hot, searing,
molten lava the meaning of the patrolman's call began to
become clear to her, boiling her skin from underneath and
making spots appear before her eyes.  She staggered back
into the formal dining room, bracing herself against the
mahogany dining table which she had spent the entire
afternoon setting for the romantic celebration dinner that her
and her new husband were to have shared together during
their first night in their new home.  She dropped to the shiny,
wood floor hard on her hind quarter, haplessly dragging the
silken tablecloth and the ornate place settings off the table.  
Those dainty dishes came crashing down with her, shattering
into a hundred thousand pieces and shards all around her.  
The flower vase tumbled, bounced and broke, water running
across the flat floor as if poured from a mop bucket.  In such a
state of shock was she that she didn't even feel it as the point
of a serrated knife nicked the back of her hand causing a
bright blot of crimson blood to drip down over her fingers,
staining the pure white of the silken tablecloth with its
unheeded flow.  Mohana began to feel sick.  She began to feel
violently nauseous, as if she would heave her very intestines
out into her lap.  Gripping the silk with both hands she
wadded it in fistfuls.  Drawing a section taut, she placed it
between her teeth.  Tightly she pulled the cloth straight down
on either side of her mouth, biting viciously into the fabric
and staring blankly with wild, bulging eyes through the clear
glass of the French doors that led out onto the patio.  
Mohana's whole body began to quiver.  Darkness lay beyond
those French doors.  A hideous darkness full of treachery and
deceit.  She felt a scream begin to well up from deep inside
her.  Convulsing with anger, confusion and fear she howled
shrill cry after shrill cry out of a mouth twitching with writhing
internal pain.  Her shrieks of emotional desecration echoed
through the empty house with a haunting helplessness which
told the sullen and shabby tale of a virgin broken heart.  
Trembling in solitary horror she began to remember her
childhood playhouse.  Those boiled, skinless new potatoes
covered in black pepper.  The red, beeswax candles.  The
chants.  The scrolls hidden in the secret chest.  The mystical
etchings burnt into the pinewood walls.  She knew Magic.  
She knew Wicca.  She knew Witchcraft.  Mohana the
enchanting.  Mohana the bewitching.  Now the real horror
would begin.

*~*~*~ Chapter One ~*~*~*

*~*~*~ The Little Girl ~*~*~*

It was a perfect day.  The sun was shining, the sky was a
thoughtful cerulean and a few small, puffy clouds drifted
aimlessly across the blue vista like snow white cotton candy
floating in the afternoon breeze.  The babysitter, a remarkably
beautiful, effeminate adolescent, with creamy skin, long raven
hair, dark gypsy eyes and carrying a rainbow backpack over
one shoulder, pulled a little red wagon.  Riding happily along
in the Radio Flyer was a pretty little girl, equally fair skinned
named Mohana Voorloche.  The little girl, blessed with the
cutest strawberry blond curls of ultra~fine hair which flitted
about her tiny shoulders, had just celebrated her third birthday
and her amazing and most favorite birthday present was the
little red wagon which now carried her down the edge of the
street by the power of her babysitter's pull.  A huge, long
charcoal gray sedan with a low murmuring engine and tinted
windows slowly drove by.  The babysitter, Trudy Mars, was
sweet sixteen and a distant relative who lived with her mother
and older sister, Jan, five houses down Trinity Street from
Mohana.  Trudy's father had died from cancer eating away at
his lungs at the young age of fifty, but Mohana's mother and
father were both alive and well.  As the babysitter pulled the
handle of the little red wagon rolling it and its happy
passenger down the edge of Trinity Street past the colorful
mailboxes, some of them encased in brick fortresses, Mohana
sang a happy song of her own composition.  A frolicking
melody kept in rhythm by the sound of loose gravel from the
asphalt pavement grinding and popping under the black,
plastic wagon wheels.  White rims capped with a red hub
cover reminiscent of an ice cream with a cherry on top.  The
wagon rolled up the Voorloche family driveway.  There was a
pause in Mohana's serenade as the babysitter stopped to
unlatch the gate of the wooden privacy fence.  Gently she
pulled the little red wagon through, closing the gate after.  
When the babysitter resumed travel pulling the little red wagon
through the back yard, Mohana's toddling voice again sang
out her unintelligible lyrics.  Mohana sang in a language all
her own, as very young children often do.  The babysitter
understood the child's song.  With a knowing smile on her
face, the babysitter clearly deciphered the little girl's limerick.  
The well built playhouse sat in the farthest corner of the
Voorloche backyard.  It was a picturesque miniature of one of
those nostalgic cha
lets found in the Swiss Alps and was
constructed of long leaf pine.  A noble wood of character and
distinction.  An ancient wood imbued with esoteric
connotations fit for any ritualistic purposes.  The playhouse
emitted the magic of the pine.  The babysitter could feel its
warm glow as they approached.  Bouncing on her blanket as
the little red wagon bumped over the clumps of green grass,
the little girl also sensed the power of the playhouse and she
began to sing louder, with more feeling.
The babysitter parked the little red wagon in front of the toy
porch which fronted the dainty pine playhouse, turned to
Mohana and admired her momentarily as the little girl sang her
secretive song.  The little girl continued singing as the
babysitter bent over and lovingly lifted the red haired canary
and her blanket from the Radio Flyer.  Placing the precious
melodic cargo on the playhouse front porch, the babysitter
opened the playhouse door and entered.  Mohana followed in
full chorus.  The window mounted air conditioner was then
switched on, for pleasant as the atmosphere of Northwest
Florida is in April, an enclosed chamber can become quite
stuffy and warm.  The stick of cinnamon hanging in front of
the air conditioner vents began to gyrate and its pleasant
aroma filled the magical playhouse.  Letting her backpack
slide gracefully from over her shoulder, Trudy the babysitter
unzipped the rainbow pouch and began placing its contents
on the playhouse tea~party table.  Mohana, still warbling her
mystical melody, had taken her seat at the tea~party table
opposite Trudy.  The babysitter removed from the rainbow
backpack a Ouija Board, an old vellum scroll, five red beeswax
candles, a lock of someone's hair, a festoon of spider's web
wrapped around a Q~tip, 3 dried rose petals, a narrow
Tupperware container filled with boiled, skinless
new~potatoes completely covered in black pepper and a
thermos of chilled cherry~red Kool~aid.  Trudy poured a
plastic teacup adorned in teeny floral motifs full of the
cherry~red Kool~aid for Mohana and aristocratically passed it
to the little girl who now ceased her song to taste her "tea".  
The little girl took the teacup with both hands and stared into
the bright, red liquid.  Trudy then unrolled the old vellum
scroll and placed it on the tea~table keeping it open by placing
a fist sized stone on each of its four corners.  The vellum was
inscribed with Crescent Moons, Ankhs, Pentagrams and other
arcane symbolism of the Occult.  Trudy continued
ceremoniously placing the Pagan ritualistic implements in
precise magical arrangement around the tea~table, talking to
Mohana while she did so.
"You will see, my dear little Mohana, as you grow, that most
people are brainwashed by the so~called scriptures and other
mass media to fight amongst themselves all the time.  They are
unwittingly induced into violent and unproductive behavioral
patterns by a theater of melodrama in the guise of Good
versus Evil.  For example, many in our part of the world are
conned by such slogans as join the Army of God in the Fight
Against Evil.  In this way, they are tricked into a constant state
of fear and bellicosity.  So continuously are they encouraged
to make war until peaceful living becomes foreign to them.  
Make war against what?  The threat against their person is a
veiled and unqualified threat indeed.  The very word
"scripture" is a euphemism which is used to give the illusion
of credibility to Biblical propaganda.  In this way, peace has
become such a strange and unfamiliar concept that people
don't know what to do with it.  Peace makes them feel
uncomfortable.  They are conditioned like Pavlov's Dog.  Only,
instead of being conditioned to salivate when a bell rings,
people are conditioned into the habit of fighting all the time.  
What they don't realize is that there's nothing against which to
fight.  There is no Army of God and there is no Fight Against
Evil.  They are shadow boxing.  They are zealots to their own
demise.  Their fanaticism is self defeating.  Round and round
they go, battling a nonexistent opponent, troubling
themselves over nothing from cradle to grave.  Wasting their
life force.  Dissipating their magical energies instead of
achieving harmony with the cosmos so that they may ascend
to a better life.  The wealthy elite are vampires, bloodsuckers
feeding off the life force of commoners, beguiling the working
class with the effervescent sparkle of Capitalism.  Charming
the regular folk with promises of wealth world without end,
luring them to tilt back their heads and lay open their soft
throats to the sharp, hungry fangs of the Captains of Industry."

During the babysitter's expounding, Mohana sat quietly
sipping her Kool~aid, mildly amused and very attentive to
every word.  
    "But then again," Trudy continued, "the commoners are
vampires themselves.  Cannibals, really.  Feeding off of each
other's greed.  Don't they realize that they themselves kill each
other for no just reason?  They also slaughter other living
creatures for food.  They kill rabbits, deer, cows, sheep, goats,
chickens.  People kill living, breathing organisms and devour
their bloody flesh.  People are the Devil.  People are monsters.  
If they want to see Evil, real Evil, all they have to do is look in
the mirror.  In other religious cults, Buddhism for example, the
followers simply sit down and do nothing.  Peace isn't lack of
forward motion.  Peace is progress.  Peace is progress without
violence and without needless, wasteful sacrifice of life.  
Mohana, my dear, you have been born into a world of
barbarians and zombies.  You are a witch, a sorceress, a child
of nature, and nature, my precious Mohana, is a process of
becoming.  One cannot become if one destroys oneself in
fruitless conflict.  One cannot become if one meditates ones
self into nothingness.  That birthmark behind your left ear, the
raven~shadow.  You are a true possessor of Witchcraft,
Mohana my love, and I shall help guide you toward greater
command of your Witchcraft."
The little girl burped and nodded her head in acquiescence.  
The birthmark behind her left ear began to grow warm.  A
green aura surrounded her tender neck and the raven~shadow
moved its wings.
    "You understand the words I am saying to you at the
intuitive level now, Mohana.  Like an instinct, you know what I
am telling you.  When you are older, my words will rise from
your subconscious mind and you shall know them in the clear
light of day and they will help you discover other truths which
will carry you through the dark shadows of night.  Good and
Evil are like matter, they are neither created nor destroyed.  
You can, however, manipulate both Good and Evil to your
advantage.  Yes, my little Mohana, I shall teach you all that I
know and as you grow, you shall find out greater truths,
stronger Magic.  You are a natural witch, Mohana.  Ones like
you come along once every seventh generation.  On occasion
a child will inherit the Craft directly from a parent, it may fall to
a grandchild or a niece or nephew, but this is rare.  Your
surname, Voorloche, is the ancient Scandinavian word for
Warlock and Mohana is a Hindu name which means
enchanting; bewitching".
       Now the sacred rites began.  Mohana was initiated into
secrets as old as Earth.  Taught to her were the powers of the
elementals and the rudimentary precepts of the spell, the hex
and the incantation.  Seances, channeling, divination; the
proper magical steps for making candles, besoms and corn
dollies.  Mohana was given her first Scrying mirror.  Trudy the
babysitter read to Mohana the young, natural Witch from
Malleus Maleficarum, the Witches Hammer, so that Mohana
would be armed with the knowledge of how to cleverly evade
detection thereby avoiding persecution and possible
prosecution for practising Witchcraft.  Mohana heard of the
horrors of Witch hunts.  She listened to verbatim transcripts of
the legal documents from the Salem Witch Trials of 1692,
which inculcated within her an instinctive mistrust for those
hypocritical bigots who despise the wielders of magic.  The
bigots don't understand magic, Mohana learned, and they fear
what they don't understand. Fear leads to suspicion;
suspicion to hatred and hatred to violence.  All magic and the
ancient ways of the Witch were revealed to Mohana and she
excelled in her studies.  Conjuring spirits and obtaining
information from ghosts became one of Mohana's favorite
games.  Day and night the beeswax candles burned.  Day and
night the young Witch Mohana learned.  As the days turned to
weeks, the weeks to months and the months to years, no adult
would have ever guessed or believed what cryptic dark Masses
took place in that well constructed, magical pine playhouse in
a normal backyard in the heart of Suburbia.
Yvette's ~*
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